Today you turn five.
I’ve been looking at pictures of you from this time last year, and from six months before that, in which you were a little boy.
It seems such a short time ago that you were so little and now, quite suddenly, you are not.
I think I feel this about you—that you are no longer little—because I’m comparing you and your baby brother – you to him, him to you. He has brought Small back into our lives while at the same time you have charged ahead to Big. You didn’t ask whether you could plant yourself firmly in this next phase, you just did. I don’t think I even saw it coming.
There are times you let some of your former Small peek through, like when you come out of the bath and you throw off your hooded towel and your hair is wet and spiky. Or when I wake up in the morning and realize you have come in early-early without me noticing and you are curled up next to your dad, fast asleep. In those moments you are Small.
But mostly you are Big.
You eat more than I ever could have imagined an almost-five-year-old could eat. “Can you get me something to eat?” is a question I hear many, many times a day. You are growing. And you are Tall and you are Long Legs and you are Independent.
You are so big that I almost can’t remember what it was like when you were a baby. And yet you are still the same character who burst onto the stage of our lives five years ago.
“How does our voice come?” you recently asked me. We’ve reached the stage where I have to start looking things up to explain them to you properly. You want the details – the hows and the whys and the what-ifs.
You have rituals. At the end of each day, without fail, you say, “Let’s talk about our day,” and “What shall we do tomorrow?”
You are curious and busy and stubborn and loud. You have to be reminded—often—to use your inside voice and your listening ears, to put your shoes on so we can get out the door, to not jump on your brother. Often, these requests have no effect on you whatsoever.
We are still push-pull, you and I. We are the same in temperament and different in our desires, requiring a not-always-achieved balance of your Loud versus my Quiet, your Bounce versus my Still. I don’t always get it right, yet after five years I have mostly figured out when to push forward and when to pull back.
Sometimes you slow right down and set everything else aside—the noise and the toys and the games and the shows—and you get quiet. You ask to hold your baby brother. You feed him. You sing him a song when he cries.
I watch you brothering him and I see your heart shine though. It is Big, just like you are. And it makes my heart big too.
I will love you always and forever,